Over the counter sleep technologies, apps and smart sleep monitors are not just a passing dream, they are here to stay, say sleep experts in an article in Intel IQ. IoT developers and medical technology companies have woken up in their efforts to tackle one of the most difficult challenges in healthcare: sleep deprivation.
The CDC reports that sleep eludes millions of Americans, and more than one-third of adults are affected by a “massive sleep debt” that leads to health problems, accidents at work and even physical exhaustion. The restless masses are hopeful that smart technology might be the best new sleep aid.
The study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine reports that sleep-tracking products are outselling health-tracking products on sites such as Kickstarter. A search for sleep apps returned more than 500 different applications, including sleep sounds, sleep trackers, sleep IQ calculators, sleep “pillow” audio and even a virtual nighttime fan. The report also notes that one of the top five paid apps was a sleep tracker and alarm clock.
The sleepless are using a plethora of devices and apps for help. Sleep technologies are categorized by delivery platform, including:
- Mobile device apps (integrated with a mobile operating system and utilizing mobile device functions, such as the camera or microphone)
- Wearable devices (on the body or attached to clothing)
- Embedded devices (integrated into furniture or other fixtures in the native sleep environment)
- Accessory appliances
- Conventional desktop/website resources.
Their primary goals are facilitation of sleep induction or wakening, self-guided sleep assessment, entertainment, social connection, information sharing and sleep education.
A Smarter, Sleepier Home
Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, M.D., a professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle and co-author of the study, sees a light ahead for the sleep deprived. “Imagine a future where sleep information and technology is fully integrated into the home and into the consumer’s lifestyle,” he reports in the study. “Users could set their sleep and wake times, and learn about ideal sleep durations from their smartphones.”
Watson imagines the perfect sleep conditions, with the help of IoT, as this: You walk into the bedroom, lighting is automatically dimmed, blackout shades come down, and temperature is adjusted to the perfect setting for your optimal sleep. You have a white noise machine that comes on at the right volume levels to block out ambient sounds.
But the average consumer may have a difficult time putting together all the interoperable pieces. While wearable sleep aids and sleep monitors are consumer-driven technologies, the solution provider has a role in providing a connected smart home that offers a restful environment. The study notes that beyond measuring sleep, devices need to soothe the senses, creating an environment that allows users to fall asleep by providing optimal light, sound and temperature control.
Light for the Night
Light is a common cause of sleep issues, and exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs, can even be harmful to health. However, other types of light can be harnessed to improve the sleeping environment. For example, the GE C-Sleep LED bulb automatically transitions from night hues to bright light in the morning. The system can be controlled by a mobile app and has three settings: nighttime, morning and everything in between, including “calm” light in the evening to “vibrant” light in the morning.
Photo: C-Sleep by GE app
Distracting noises, whether from traffic, airplanes, neighbors or crying babies can also disrupt sleep. Technology that goes beyond the typical white noisemaker such as a fan is Nightingale, a smart home sleep system developed by Cambridge Sound Management. Nightingale masks distracting sounds with a connected home system that “blankets” a bedroom with sound customized for a room’s acoustics. It consists of two independent units, each with two speakers, and is controllable by Amazon Alexa. It also connects to smart home devices such as Ring, Nest and Philips Hue.
Another critical component of a good night’s sleep is temperature, as experts agree the sleep environment is best when cool. While Nest thermostats can control room temperatures, other products provide closer-up temperature control. Water-based cooling pillow pad Moona regulates a user’s pillow temperature, keeping it chilled while falling asleep and warm to wake up. The ChiliPAD cube lets users set a mattress temperature as low as 55 degrees or as warm as 110 degrees F.
Put together the perfect sleep-enhancing bundle for the smart home. Download the report, “Consumer Sleep Technologies: A Review of the Landscape.” Learn more about GE’s C-Sleep lighting, and find out about Nightingale IFTTT smart home integration.